Role of Management in Improving Workplace Safety and Health

Role of Management in Improving Workplace Safety and Health

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The article “Role of Management in Improving Workplace Safety and Health” (Admin, 2011) points out the importance of keeping the workplace safety and explains the role of Human Resources managers in workplace safety and health maintenance. The Human Resources managers should be more proactive regarding workplace health and safety (Admin, 2011). Although the employers' responsibilities regarding workplace safety and health are both ethically and legally undeniable, “Role of Management in Improving Workplace Safety and Health” makes a critical error by placing those responsibilities entirely on the HR Department. Furthermore, it is not possible to be more proactive because the HR department is not specialized in workplace safety and needs to fulfill other functions within the company. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a government agency that defines and regulates employer responsibility in creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for employees. Instead of inspecting, evaluating, and developing solutions by themselves, HR managers are responsible only for following OSHA rules and regulations and keep up with current trends proposed by OSHA.
Training Program Development
The article “Role of Management in Improving Workplace Safety and Health” claims HR managers should develop proper training programs to prevent injuries at work and defines the purpose of safety training programs as methods of improving the employees' performance abilities when it comes to preserving themselves from work-related risks (Admin, 2011). The systematical method of developing training programs is through identifying needs after inspections, accident reports, and discussions with the safety committee, followed by planning, implementation, and improvement evaluation (Admin, 2011). Although these are standard protocols in developing training programs, the article does not mention the people or institutions responsible for actual program development. The initial blame for low proactivity on the HR department and its impact on worker safety and health remains unmentioned from the introduction of the article, so it is only natural to assume that the HR department is responsible for carrying out training program development after reading that section.
The HR department cannot develop training programs because OSHA and similar agencies specializing in workplace safety are responsible for developing trainings. Furthermore, the HR department cannot even perform the actual trainings because their employees are not authorized to train employees in workplace safety. The HR department is responsible only for providing training for the company's employees, so they can perform work in a safe manner in compliance with OSHA requirements (Michaels, 2010), and they cannot possibly be involved in safety training or safety training program development.

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Asking an HR manager to develop a training program is equal to asking a doctor to develop the electronic tools required in their profession. Doctors can develop medical technologies only in collaboration with electronic engineers, so HR managers can develop safety training programs only in collaboration with agencies specializing in workplace health and safety issues.
Safer Work System Design
The management is responsible for decision-making in structural, organizational, and production establishment or changes. Their decision-making models will greatly depend on several existing rules and regulations. The workplace safety and health regulations require long-term planning in business organization to minimize hazards, and rather than asking the employees to adapt themselves to an unsafe environment, establishing a safe system should be a priority for organizational decision-making models (Admin, 2011). The article “Role of Management in Improving Workplace Safety and Health” states how most accidents are the result of “failure in management skill”, and how HR managers are responsible for identifying and modifying hazards to improve their well-being (Admin, 2011).
Again, the role of HR management in workplace safety is overestimated. Even the ability of management in establishing and improving workplace safety is overestimated. Although they need to be knowledgeable about the industry they work in, the HR department does not specialize in any particular industry. It is not possible to assume that the HR department is able to know enough theory about hazardous machines, chemicals, and processes in all industries to determine workplace safety designs or safety improvements in workplace designs without assistance from professional occupational health and safety organizations.
Finally, some circumstances are not in the HR department's power. For example, OSHA has the power to ban smoking in workplaces, and one of their interests was to ban smoking from any type of workplace, including restaurants and bars, to protect workers from secondhand smoke (Umansky, 1997). However, if smoking is legally allowed in bars and restaurants, the HR management cannot do anything about it because banning smoking would most likely result in losing a high percentage of potential clients. Although it would be ethical to provide all workers with the same conditions when it comes to health and safety, profit is sometimes above ethical decisions. If ethical decisions are not supported by law, aligning the company with the competition, even though it could harm employees, is obligatory to preserve profits because there would be no workplaces without profits.
Workplace Inspection and Evaluation
Regular formal inspections of workplaces, physical examinations for employees, and monitoring the workplace environment are all forms of proactive management (Admin, 2011). The author further contradicts these words by describing how construction sites have specific laws regarding employee health and workplace safety inspections (Admin, 2011). The author of “Role of Management in Improving Workplace Safety and Health” obviously does not understand the meaning of the word “proactive,” which means taking a preventive approach to solve a problem before it occurs. It does not refer to following pre-established legal requirements and protocols in different industries. Besides, if the maximum periods between physical examinations and workplace inspections are defined by law and based on logical arguments and findings, the HR management only needs to follow the law. There is no need to be proactive about something already defined. If it is ethical to provide a safe and healthy workplace, and if all guidelines for optimal methods of providing it are defined by law, further proactive behavior will have similar results to breaking the rules and regulations. While not paying attention to employee safety and health results in lost time and profits, spending too much time on safety and health inspections results in lost time and profits, so it is important to find a balance between neglectful behavior and obsessive behavior.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) gives several rights to workers, so they can remain unharmed during their jobs (OSHA, n.d.). The OSH Act requires employers to provide safe working conditions for all employees (OSHA, n.d.). However, it states that employers need to create conditions “free of known dangers” (OSHA, n.d.), so it would be false to assume the management is responsible for discovering health and safety issues. The management can organize and pay for inspections and evaluations from authorized companies and institutions that will provide accurate and updated inspections and evaluations.
Conclusion
Workers have rights to a safe and healthy environment, and the employers are both legally and ethically required to provide them with a safe and healthy environment, but claiming HR department is the only department responsible for participation in creating a safe environment and responsible for health and safety measurements (Admin, 2011) is unreasonable. Although most health and safety measures are probably taken only because of legal requirements, ethical models for business decision-making must not be overlooked because they bring long-term success for both employees and employers. According to Echhardt (2001), injuries and illnesses from work cause lost production, lost wages, medical expenses, long-term medical disabilities, and compensation payments. In conclusion, Eckhardt (2001) states morality is the most important trait for business leaders because providing comprehensive safety programs and following regulations decreases risks, develops a clear conscience, and generates positive relationships with workers. While a neglectful approach to workplace health and safety damages both the employers and employees, a proactive approach to health and safety in the workplace results in well-being for both employers and employees. However, because it brings benefits to both employers and employees, it must be the responsibility of both sides. The workers must know their rights and ask for them while employers must know how their workers feel at the workplace and be mindful about the employees' improvement suggestions. A healthy collaboration between management and employees results in the safest and healthiest workplace environment.
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